Arid Lands Newsletter--link to home page No. 44, Fall/Winter 1998
Conflict Resolution and Transboundary Water Resources

Selected resources of interest

Annotated by Elaine Cubbins

Transboundary water resources management: Institutional and engineering approaches
edited by J Ganoulis, L. Duckstein, P. Literathy, and I. Bogardi
NATO ASI Series 2. Environment - Vol. 7
Springer, 1996. 480 pages. DM278.00
Available from:

Springer-Verlag Berlin
Heidelberger Platz 3
D-14197 Berlin
Tel.: +49 (30) 82787-0
Web site:
[Proceedings of the NATO Advanced Study Institute by the same name, held on Skopelos Island, Greece, May 15-25,1994.] Reports submitted to the U.N. indicate that "about 50% of the land of our planet (excluding Antarctica) is located in internationally shared water catchments. In this area about 40% of the world's population lives, extending over more than 200 international river basins." The key concern is how to unify countries over water resources issues and how to increase the benefits that water brings, without adversely affect neighboring countries.

The successful implementation of water management policy for international water resources includes the technical use of methodologies and quantitative analysis, and this book gives the tools that specialists use in the areas of socioeconomics, international policy, engineering and water management. Part I presents the approach of descriptive or process models, and Part II presents quantitative or outcome models. Both model types are important for understanding and working through potential conflicts. Part III analyzes case studies of current practices, international agreements, and conflicts over transboundary water resources. The book includes maps, charts, tables, statistical equations, photographs, an index, and bibliographies of references.

The following two papers are available from:

Worldwatch Institute
1776 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036-1904
Tel: +1 (202) 452-1999
Fax: +1 (202) 296-7365
Web site:

Investing in the future: Harnessing private capital flows for environmentally sustainable development
by Hilary F. French
Worldwatch Paper 139. Worldwatch Institute, 1998. 68 pages. US$5.00.
The hundreds of millions of dollars privately invested in the developing world since 1990 have overtaken the financial contributions of public aid and governmental agencies as the principal source of economic development. Funds are often given to those countries "endowed with bountiful natural resources but handicapped by weak environmental laws...." Private investments can promote natural resource depletion and destruction and industrial pollution, or they can enhance environmental quality through technologies that minimize waste and energy use. The author demonstrates how private investment shapes environmental trends in the developing world and calls for channelling funding from ecologically-damaging enterprises into sustainable development. Includes tables, graphs, maps, and annotated endnotes with bibliographic sources.

Taking a stand: Cultivating a new relationship with the world's forests
by Janet N. Abramovitz
Worldwatch Paper 140. Worldwatch Institute, 1998. 84 pages. US$5.00
"Although it is often assumed that the greatest value can be extracted from a forest by maximizing timber and pulp production or converting it to agriculture, other uses generally regarded as free or simply not noticed are often more valuable. These uses can also be sustained over the long term and benefit more people." This paper details the many ways that forests contribute to sustainability, assesses their current situation, and examines how they can be destroyed by forest products consumption and poor choices by governments. The author concludes that sustainable management is essential to reverse these continuous losses. Humans must cultivate a new relationship with forest communities, from caring for tree health to developing national forest policies. Strong competition over the future of forests exists between those who want to continue to deplete them and those who work for a viable interaction with them. "Whether or not the bystanders to this competition recognize its urgency and throw their support to a new relationship with the forests in time will determine the outcome."

The following two books are available from:

The University of Arizona Press
1230 N. Park Avenue, Suite 102
Tucson, AZ 85719
Tel: +1 (520) 626-4218
Fax: +1 (520) 621-8899

Dune country: A naturalist's look at the plant life of Southwestern sand dunes
by Janice Emily Bowers
University of Arizona Press, 1998. 156 pages. US$15.95 (paper)
"Contrary to public perception, sand dunes are not barren piles of sand. They are alive with plant life. The dunes themselves even move, sometimes several inches a year." Bowers, a reknowned naturalist of the American Southwest, introduces readers to the fragility of Death Valley (California), White Sands National Monument (New Mexico), and Coral Pink Dunes (Utah), and opens our eyes to the life of these constantly reshaping ecosystems. Dunes move grain by grain while the wind whistles around the tenacious flora surviving in the sands. The sands move through the black-and-white photographs, and drawings by Margaret Zurzius show every detail of the spare, hardy dune plants. The book also offers suggested readings, a list of common and scientific names of dunes plants, a selective guide to Southwestern dunes, a general index, and an index of common plant names.

Kenya's changing landscape
by Raymond M. Turner, H. Awala Ochung', and Jeanne B. Turner
University of Arizona Press, 1998. 177 pages. US$35.00 (paper)
Kenya's changing flora is documented through a series of photographic projects for the same locations in the 1920s by botanist Homer L. Shantz, in the late 1950s by Shantz and B.L. Turner, and in 1992 by this book's editors. Sharp black and white images record a landscape's evolution over 70+ years as affected by land use management, human occupation patterns, and grazing by wild and domestic herbivores. Narratives explain the process of change for plant life through each photograph, and a brief discussion at the end of each series brings the process into holistic focus. Sometimes there is a surprise: a hillside used for agriculture in the 1920s returns to wild land by 1992. More often, the impact of humans, grazing animals and land use decisions changed the flora from indigenous to an agricultural or defoliated state.

Patterns and causes of change are examined in humid and semi-arid regions. The book includes quantitative findings, maps, common and scientific names of plants in the photographs, an index, a bibliography of cited works, and technical information concerning the work's photography. The book is recommended for botanists, environmentalists, and anthropologists, but is also useful for land use managers, African historians, and as a model for similar undertakings.

Managing the commons. 2nd edition.
edited by John A. Baden and Douglas S. Noonan
Indiana University Press, 1998. 243 pages. $39.95 cloth; $16.95 paper
Available from:

Indiana University Press
Order Department
601 N. Morton St.
Bloomington IN 47404-3797
Tel: +1 (812) 855-6804 or toll-free from US and Canada: +1 (800) 842-6796
Fax: +1 (812) 855-7931
Web site:
This collection of essays, written by respected experts in the fields of resource management, public policy, and ecology, addresses issues of development vs. conservation of commonly held lands that were originally raised in Garret Hardin's 1968 essay, "The Tragedy of the Commons." Reprints of this essay and other classics, and new works and case studies present a variety of views on the political, economic and environmental struggles over the future of public and communally held resources. Some of the topics covered are:
  • The privatization of America's ranching commons through legal changes and and technological innovations
  • Communal agriculture by Mormons
  • Threats to the scenic landscapes of many Western states by unchecked and unplanned development
  • The Internet as a "self-organizing commons."
The book also includes an index, diagrams, and bibliographical notes at the end of each essay.

Climate variability and change in the Southwest: Impacts, information needs, and issues for policymaking
edited by Robert Merideth, Diana Liverman, Roger Bales and Mark Patterson
Udall Center for Public Policy, University of Arizona, 1998. 120 pages.
Available from:

Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy
The University of Arizona
803/811 E. First St.
Tucson, AZ 85719
Tel.: +1 (520) 621-7189
Fax: +1 (520) 621-9234
This is the final report of the Southwest Regional Climate Change Symposium and Workshop, held 3-5 September, 1997, in Tucson, Arizona. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the event brought together "important stakeholders -- representatives from the private sector, government agencies, educational institutions, and interested citizens -- to determine the state-of-knowledge, information and research needs, and possible policy strategies related to the impacts of and responses to climate variability and change in the Southwest." Chapters cover regional overviews and workshop reports on both sectoral and cross-cutting issues. The report also contains maps, tables, charts and diagrams, some in color, and four appendices containing the symposium and workshop programs, list of participants, list of speakers, panelists and moderators, and moderator and workshop leader instructions.

Sebkhas als Ausdruck von Landschaftsdegradation im zentralen Küstentiefland der Ostprovinz Saudi-Arabiens
[Sebkhas as an indicator of land degradation in the central coastal lowlands of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia]
By Hans-Jörg Barth
Regensburger Geographische Schriften, Heft 29
Institut für Geographie an der Universität Regensburg. 1998. 279 pages. DM30.00
Available from:

Universität Regensburg
Lehrstuhl für Kulturgeographie
Universitätsstr. 31
D-93053 Regensburg
Tel: +49 (941) 943 3613
Fax: +49 (941) 943 4933
Land degradation in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province is becoming a serious threat. This book details a study carried out in an area of almost 1000 km2, located on Saudi Arabia's Gulf coast north of Jubail. Components of the study included classification of vegetation types, characterization of vegetation density, examination of grazing and recreational impacts, and comparison of coastal and inland sebkhas (highly saline flats). The study concludes that the inland sebkhas are most likely not of Pleistocene origin but rather "are rapidly changing geomorphological features and therefore further indicators representing the ecological situation of areas in the Eastern Province...." The book contains extensive illustrations, tables, photographs, and a bibliography. In German, with a summary in English.

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Elaine Cubbins works for the Arid Lands Information Center at the Office of Arid Lands Studies. The editor gratefully acknowledges her assistance in preparing this material for publication.

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